Our Hymer’s Electrical Heart Attack

Cynthia has left me. Not for good I hope. I said goodbye to her yesterday at the crack of dawn on a windy platform at Gare de Narbonne. She’s gone to Paris for a few days to enjoy the sights and a little stimulating conversation with one of her old flying buddies. That leaves me with just the dogs, and yet another electrical problem to solve.

We had an issue with our headlights last week. After three days wild camping I started the engine in the pre-dawn dark to discover that neither headlight worked and one of the high beam bulbs appeared to be out. Given our appalling record with French mechanics, we buried our collective head in the sand and decided to only drive during the day for a while and hope the problem would resolve itself. We didn’t expect the plan to work, but it did. Three days later all of our lights were fully functional again. We don’t know why, and we aren’t complaining.

Just to keep us on our toes, the electrical system then threw another spanner in the works yesterday. We’re living in the Hymer full time. We need electricity for lights, the water pump, charging our phones, Kindles, MacBook and iPad and, the most significant drain this time of the year, for running the heating system fan.

To keep our two leisure bank batteries filled with electrical goodness we need plenty of hot sun for the solar panel, a long drive to put the alternator to work, or an hour or two with the generator running.

We discovered that the generator wasn’t putting a charge into the two leisure batteries. To make sure that the generator wasn’t at fault we moved to an aire in Narbonne with an electrical hookup. That didn’t work either.

We were left with just two possibilities to charge the leisure bank; an unseasonal spell of strong sunshine or a long and aimless drive. After glancing at the thick bank of cloud above me, I took the Hymer for a spin.

An hour later I parked on a rough track overlooking a saltwater lagoon near Leucate. I phoned Oaktree Motorhomes. The Hymer came with a three year RAC warranty when we bought it in March 2016. Oaktree suspects the charging problem is a fault with the Hymer’s elektroblock, a mass of electrical wizardry hidden beneath a false bottom in a cupboard by the passenger seat.

The good news is that the repair is covered by the warranty. The bad news is that I have to return to the UK to have the work done. What’s more, the Hymer needs to be left with Oaktree Motorhomes for ten days while the elektroblock is sent away for repair. While the vehicle is there we can get two more warranty jobs done; a replacement radiator fitted, and a gearbox seal replaced which will necessitate removing much of the engine.

As the Hymer is our home, I’ll have to move Cynthia and the dogs and everything we own onto the boat, take the Hymer to Nottingham and then fly back to the Netherlands until the elektroblock has been repaired. We’ll schedule the work for April when we return to Belgium to move our Linsen yacht from Antwerp to the Leiden. In the meantime, I need to buy a battery charger.

A stormy sky over Leucate

A stormy sky over Leucate

A room with a view - Unwinding with a good book after a long day

A room with a view – Unwinding with a good book after a long day

The Hymer's elektroblock - Our home's ailing heart

The Hymer’s elektroblock – Our home’s ailing heart


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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 10 comments
Alan Cranford - February 22, 2018

I HOPE you are going to also have them check out your “French” wiring job! I will bet you that this may be a cause for the entire electric issue… and if it is not “fixed”, you will continue to have electrical issues. I had to install new “plugs” on my headlight wiring due to upgrading to stronger, more powerful headlights….some how I now have one on low beam while the other is on high beam… even after reversing wires… but no problem… since then I have become “night blind” and no longer drive after dark so I guess I don’t need headlights!

    Paul Smith - February 22, 2018

    The issue with getting them to resolve the wiring problem is that I have to be able to present Oaktree Motorhomes with a problem to solve. The problems appear to be intermittent. We will have to hope that something fails while we are there which, given our past track record, I suppose is quite likely!

john - February 24, 2018

I presume you have looked up UK sites for your rear window? Reg alone will not work, a Hymer or chassis no is required for some reason
I’ve tried a few ‘smart’ battery chargers, one of which despite being expensive, did for a couple of battery cells. The noco genius 7200 will work for 12/24v and has not given any problems.

    Paul Smith - February 25, 2018

    The Noco Genius looks like a wonderful charger John, but I see it’s from the USA and needs 110-120 AC input. Will it work with our European voltage?

    Yes, we have considered the UK. I have asked Oaktree Motorhomes to quote for the replacement window.

john - February 25, 2018

Designed in the US and made like everything else in good old China. Models sold here will be 240v. Will work for wet, gel and lithium ion, but does not mention calcium batteries, so research needed if this is what you have.

    Paul Smith - February 26, 2018

    Thanks for the clarification John. I have ordered one.

Neil - February 26, 2018

Hi Paul and Cynthia,
Your lights and other electrical probs will more than likely be nothing more than a bad earth connection which your dealer can check.

    Paul Smith - February 27, 2018

    Thanks, Neil. I hope Oaktree Motorhomes can get to the bottom of it.

Ian of Alchemy - March 1, 2018

I’d be tempted to say wind and wet has penetrated your electrics somewhat and creating false earths or shorts. could be in a number of connections or in your blackbox. they seem to dry out when you motor. Try wd40 everywhere you can access in the wiring especially those exposed to the outside elements. Maybe pull some of those pluggy things and fusy looking things on the blackbox and check contacts for verdegris and corrosion with a bit of wd40 on refit. It must be very much like the boat electrics, and exposure to damp.quite to be expected under the current weather conditions. Good luck.

    Paul Smith - March 1, 2018

    I’ll be taking the Hymer back to Oaktree motorhomes in April. We still have a year left on the warranty. The electrics have always been an issue, so I’ll give them a full list of the faults and leave the vehicle with them until they have sorted them out. All the Hymer’s electrics appear to be much better protected than they were on my narrowboat. I’ve explored, prodded and poked as much as I’m comfortable doing. I’ll have to leave the rest to the experts.


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